Jonathan, recover trillions diverted by NNPC, MDAs, contractors, By Femi Falana

Femi Falana

Officials and offices indicted for criminally diverting trillions of naira have made no refunds, and have received no punishment

(1) Upon assumption of the office of the President of the Republic in 2010, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan set up a Panel of Inquiry on abandoned projects in the country. The Panel carried out the assignment and submitted a report to the Federal Government wherein it was revealed that projects worth N8 trillion have been abandoned throughout the federation by local and foreign contractors.

With the connivance of top officials of the federal government, many of the contractors made away with mobilization fees of over N2.5 trillion before abandoning the projects to the detriment of the people of Nigeria. Some of the projects include the building of schools and hospitals, supply of water, construction and maintenance of roads.

(2) Following allegations of massive mismanagement of public funds by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the Jonathan Administration directed that a reputable audit firm be engaged to look into the books of the corporation. Consequently, KPMG Consulting Services was hired to audit the NNPC.

In a detailed report submitted to the Federal Government in November 2010, the NNPC was accused of shortchanging the federation account to the tune of trillions of naira. Far reaching recommendations were made to arrest the institutionalized fraud in the NNPC. But apart from dissolving and reconstituting the NNPC board under the same chair and Minister of Petroleum resources, Mrs Deziani Allison-Madueke, it has been business as usual in the corporation.

(3) In 2011, the National Assembly appropriated N245 billion for fuel subsidy. Without any legislative approval the ministry of finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria released N2.5 trillion to fund the fuel subsidy scam. The report of the investigation conducted by the House of Representatives confirmed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, collected over fifty percent of the fund. Up till now no member of the NNPC board who took part in the grand economic sabotage has been brought to book. Neither have the Minister of Finance and CBN governor been sanctioned for releasing over N2 trillion to fuel importers in 2011 without appropriation.

(4) The Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force set up by the federal government after the January 2012 protests, indicted the NNPC for diverting trillions of naira payable to the Federation Account. A number of oil companies were also slammed for withholding billions of dollars which ought to have been paid to the coffers of the federal government. In a bid to cover up the fraud perpetrated by the NNPC abortive efforts were made by the Federal Government to discredit the findings and recommendations of the Task Force. The Jonathan Administration was reported last week to have jettisoned the Report of the Task Force.

(5) In 2010, the National Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), a statutory agency of the federal government disclosed that some oil companies had failed to remit $8.9 billion to the Federation Account.

For some inexplicable reasons the Federal Government has refused to recover the stolen funds from indicted oil companies.

(6) A fortnight ago, the NEITI released another report which indicted the NNPC for withholding N1.9 trillion from the Federation Account. Apart from the general denial of the serious allegation of fraud contained in the audit report, the NNPC has failed to controvert the findings and conclusions of the NEITI.

(7) In a recent report submitted to the National assembly by the Auditor-General of the Federation, it was revealed that a number of MDAs collected N4.5 trillion from 2009-2012 which they failed to pay to the federation account. In the course of debating the report the House of Representatives has discovered that the actual amount diverted by the MDAs is not less than N8 trillion within a period of three years.

(8) While the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the ICPC are busy pursuing the cases of some politically exposed persons and private individuals involved in corrupt practices and other economic and financial crimes in the various courts, President Jonathan should pluck up the courage to ensure that the trillions of naira diverted by the NNPC, MDAs and contractors are recovered forthwith.

Having set up committees and engaged audit firms to probe the accounts of some agencies of the Federal Government, President Jonathan is under a duty to implement their reports no matter whose ox is gored. The states and local governments which are entitled to 47 percent of the revenue accruable to the Federation Account should collaborate with the National Assembly and the anti-graft agencies to recover the looted wealth of the Nigerian people.

Since the NNPC has been indicted by KPMG, Auditor-General of the Federation, Special Petroleum Task Force, NEITI and both chambers of the National Assembly the Minister of Petroleum Resources; Mrs Deziani Allison-Madueke should be sacked without any further delay. This will go a long way to convince Nigerians that there is no sacred cow in the fight against corruption.

(9) After all, the money allegedly stolen by all the ex-governors is not up to N1 trillion. Why should they be standing trial if civil servants who divert and convert trillions of naira payable to the Federation Account are allowed to go scot free? If indicted fuel importers are being prosecuted, why should the NNPC which collected the bulk of the fuel subsidy fund through fraud be spared from prosecution?

Since what is good for the goose is good for the gander, all the NNPC board members and officials who were involved in the fraud of over N1 trillion fuel subsidy should be prosecuted without any further delay.

Mr. Falana is a Lagos-based senior lawyer and rights activist.

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